At some point during the summer, you'll likely embark on some type of vacation whether it be a week at the beach or a cross country trip in the motor home. Since the summertime may afford you just a little bit more time off of work and gas prices are still on the lower side, you might decide that going by automobile is the travel mode of choice. If you decide to load up the SUV or the station wagon and start out on a road trip, here are five smart money moves you might want to consider to stretch your dollars this summer.
Avoid the holiday weekends
If you are going to a popular destination, make sure to avoid Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day Weekend. These weekends will likely cost you more for hotel rooms and getting into certain attractions. You might want to get out on the road extra early to make sure that you aren't stuck in traffic all day as that may be the smartest non money move of all.
Give your kids a budget
We all want to make sure that our children have fond memories of their summer vacation. If you go to a beach type setting with a boardwalk, set a budget for things like games and candy. If you are in a hotel type setting, set a budget for the weekly activities. Since most kids don't have a real feel for the cost of a bag of loose candy or a round of miniature golf, make sure you set expectations with them.
Get the car tuned up
It will be important to pack smart so you don't carry too much weight in the car. While you don't have to pay 'baggage fees', the more freight you carry with you on the trip, the more gas you will use to get where you have to go. It's important to make sure the tires are full of air and your car has a fresh tune up or oil change before you get on the road.
Diners, drive ins, and dives
You may have at least watched this show one time and witnessed awesome food at some off the beaten path type places. You might want to consider seeing which places they have covered in the area where you are traveling through to see if you can scrape a meal or two for some good cooking at a price that won't break your bank. At a minimum, pack snacks from home and do a small grocery run before you hit the road so you aren't paying 2x to 3x the cost at convenience stores.
Check your credit card rewards
Between your frequent flyer mileage and hotel points (or other point reward cards), you should see if there are any opportunities to get a point stretcher on hotels. You may need some new gear including luggage and some types of reward programs will put merchandise on clearance. Check out your options before you start blowing your cash.
Have fun on the 'holiday road' this summer and use these smart money moves on your family road trip.